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Zhenyu Zhang

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Dynamics of terraces on a silicon surface due to the combined action of strain and electric current

A (001) surface of silicon consists of terraces of two variants, which have an identical atomic structure, except for a 90° rotation. We formulate a model to evolve the terraces under the combined action of electric current and applied strain. The electric current motivates adatoms to diffuse by a wind force, while the applied strain motivates adatoms to diffuse by changing the concentration of adatoms in equilibrium with each step. To promote one variant of terraces over the other, the wind force acts on the anisotropy in diffusivity, and the applied strain acts on the anisotropy in surface stress. Our model reproduces experimental observations of stationary states, in which the relative width of the two variants becomes independent of time. Our model also predicts a new instability, in which a small change in experimental variables (e.g., the applied strain and the electric current) may cause a large change in the relative width of the two variants.

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Persistent step-flow growth of strained films on vicinal substrates

We propose a model of persistent step flow, emphasizing dominant kinetic processes and strain effects. Within this model, we construct a morphological phase diagram, delineating a regime of step flow from regimes of step bunching and island formation. In particular, we predict the existence of concurrent step bunching and island formation, a new growth mode that competes with step flow for phase space, and show that the deposition flux and temperature must be chosen within a window in order to achieve persistent step flow. The model rationalizes the diverse growth modes observed in pulsed laser deposition of SrRuO3 on SrTiO3

 Physical Review Letters 95, 095501 (2005)

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Interplay between elastic interactions and kinetic processes in stepped Si (001) homoepitaxy

A vicinal Si (001) surface may form stripes of terraces, separated by monatomic-layer-high steps of two kinds, SA and

SB

. As adatoms diffuse on the terraces and attach to or detach from the steps, the steps move. In equilibrium, the steps are equally spaced due to elastic interaction. During deposition, however, SA

is less mobile than

SB

. We model the interplay between the elastic and kinetic effects that drives step motion, and show that during homoepitaxy all the steps may move in a steady state, such that alternating terraces have time-independent, but unequal, widths. The ratio between the widths of neighboring terraces is tunable by the deposition flux and substrate temperature. We study the stability of the steady state mode of growth using both linear perturbation analysis and numerical simulations. We elucidate the delicate roles played by the standard Ehrlich-Schwoebel (ES) barriers and inverse ES barriers in influencing growth stability in the complex system containing (SA+SB) step pairs.

Preprint available in the attachment.

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